Cătălina Tesăr

Cătălina Tesăr is a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Sociology, and a researcher at the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant. She has been a fellow of New Europe College in Bucharest, between 2019-2020. She received her Ph.D. in social anthropology from University College London in 2013. She is a past Wenner Gren Foundation U.S. grantee of a Wadsworth International Fellowships (2007-2011) for doctoral studies, and of a Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ethnographic Film (2016-27) for turning her Ph.D. dissertation into a documentary. Her work focuses on the sexual, economic, and political dimensions of arranged marriages among an ostentaionally traditional Roma population from central Romania, Transylvania. She is currently working on finishing the postproduction of her documentary, and on turning her Ph.D. dissertation into a book.

The Time of the Chalice. Of Marriages, Ancestors, and Sons among Cortorari Gypsies in Transylvania

This project is based on Tesăr’s Ph.D. research – ethnographic research among a Gypsy population from Transylvania, the Cortorari, which provides insights for advancing the theorization of Gypsies’ attitudes towards temporality, and the understanding of their survival as a group.  Contrary to other Romany people who are uninterested in the material world around them, and whose attitudes towards time are informed by a presentist orientation, the Cortorari convey a strong commitment to the ownership of some objects of wealth and status, namely the chalices. Practices related to the possession of chalices reveal a stance on time that accommodates pulls towards the past, the present, and the future. Coming from the ancestors, chalices circulate as male heirlooms, and are central to practices of marriage. What is critical about chalices is that, on a temporal dimension, they secure permanence and immutability. Tesăr looks at how different kinds of time, memory, and historicity relate to each other and are weaved into the social reproduction of the group.